Become a Chess Master in No Time!
Have you ever been walking through a park, and saw some people playing chess? All of the fancy looking pieces and unique ways each moves can be confusing to some. However, chess is not hard to learn how to play! The trick is mastering the strategies over a lifetime. Let’s begin!
Setting Up The Board
The first thing that you need to do to begin a chess match is set up the board. A standard chessboard has 8 rows of 8 squares, alternating from dark to light colors. When you begin the game, the bottom right square should be white (or light). This ensures that the board is oriented in the right direction. You may notice along the bottom and side there are often labels for each row and column. The rows are labeled 1-8 from bottom to top. The columns have labels A-H from left to right.
Next, set up the pieces. Each piece has its own unique way they move, and their original location on the board affects this. Along the bottom row (row 1) place the pieces as shown above. From left to right: Rook, Knight, Bishop, Queen, King, Bishop, Knight, Rook. Set the second row up with the 8 available pawns next. Each side of the board should mirror each other when fully set up. A trick to remember what color to set your queen on is this: The Queen always gets what she wants, so she gets to sit on the color matching her piece. The white queen always starts on a white space, and you can set the rest of the pieces confidently afterwards. Once all the pieces have been set, it is important to know how each of them moves.
The smallest pieces on the board are pawns. They start in the row in front of the rest of the pieces. In most cases, pawns can only move one space at time, directly forward. There are a few exceptions to this rule. The first is when they are attacking another piece, in which case they can move diagonally forward one space to capture. Another exception is their initial move. A pawn is permitted to move two spaces forward if it is the first time that piece has been moved in the game. If you are able to get one of your pawns to the opposite side of the board, you can exchange it for a more powerful piece that you can use to finish the game.
The more rare exception to this rule is “en passant”, which allows a pawn to capture another pawn that lands adjacent to it. The word for this move originated in France and means “in passing”. Pawns cannot jump over other pieces, and cannot share spots. (No two pieces can share spaces)
Rooks, also known as “castles” for their appearance, start in the corners of the board.These pieces can move vertically and laterally, as far as they want. They cannot jump over any other pieces, so that limits their movement range. Rooks capture pieces by moving directly to them if they are in their path. They then replace the captured piece on the spot they captured it.
Knights are some of the most versatile pieces on the board, and start next to the rooks. Sometimes called “horses” because of their appearance, they can also jump over other pieces, much like a real horse. A knight can only move in a combination of spaces. The can move two spaces in any no diagonal direction, but also must move one space adjacent to where they land. They can also move one space in any non diagonal direction, followed by two spaces in another non diagonal direction. The easiest way to visualize this is to think of an “L” shape. Knights capture pieces by landing on them after completing the “L” shaped move.
Bishops are another powerful piece on the board, and they start next to the knights. The pointed shape of the pieces comes from the shape of the bishops hats in the Christian church. Each bishop starts on either the dark squares or light squares, and must stay on that color for the entire match. Bishops can move as far as they want on an angle, as long as it is their designated color. They cannot jump over other pieces, and this limits their movement. Bishops can move in a forward direction or backwards, and capture by replacing the enemy piece in their path.
The queen is the most powerful piece on the board. This piece can move as far as she wants, in any direction. She cannot jump over pieces, and this limits her movement. The queen captures in the same fashion as other pieces, by replacing the enemy piece in her path. Having the ability to move so far, makes the queen a very powerful ally when creating your strategy, but beware. Being too aggressive with her as a weapon, and not protecting her, leads to a lot of players’ downfall.
The king is the most important piece in the game. It is also one of the weakest. The object of chess is to capture the king, or make him surrender because there is nowhere to move. The king starts the game next to the queen, and can move one space in any direction. The king cannot jump over other pieces. Also, the king cannot put himself in “check”, which is when another piece could capture him. When another piece is attacking the king, this is called “check”.
There is an exception to this rule in the case of “castling”. Castling is when the king moves two or three spaces, depending on whether it’s left or right, and then places the rook on the opposite side of him. This defensive move usually signifies that a player has completed their setup for their strategy. It must be both the king’s and the rook’s first move as well.
Playing the Game
The person with the white pieces always moves first in chess. After that, the players take turns moving their pieces. This continues back and forth until the end of the game. The game is over when one person puts the opposite king in “checkmate”, which is when the king cannot move without being captured. Games can also end in a draw or “stalemate”. This happens on 5 occasions:
- The king is not in check, but has no legal moves.
- A player declares a draw if the exact same position has been repeated three times.
- There aren’t enough pieces on the board to get a checkmate.
- If 50 consecutive moves are made without a capture, or a pawn moved.
- If the players simply agree to stop playing and declare a draw.
Now that you have a basic understanding of how to play the game, you should practice developing strategy. Once you have a basic strategy that you like to start with, you can mold it into your own play style. After playing a while, you should be able to think far ahead into the game, analyzing possible moves and outcomes. Before you know it, you will be teaching others!